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Low-cost tablet for schools in India put on hold

The Ubislate device from DataWind was due to be sold at $35, targeted at Indian students

A government-sponsored project in India to manufacture and distribute low-cost Android-based tablet devices to schools and universities in the country has been put on hold amid legal battles over production of the device, according to local reports.

The Aakash project aimed to make a tablet device available to Indian school and college students for just $35, while also producing a similar product to be retailed to the mass market. In September 2010, India’s Ministry of Human Resources Development tasked government academic institution IIT Rajasthan with procuring and testing 100,000 Android tablets for the project, resulting in the award of a $4.3bn contract to Canadian firm DataWind.

While IIT Rajasthan outlined the technical specifications for the tablet, it did not specify the criteria that would be used for testing and approving devices. DataWind said it designed the tablet, satisfying the technical specifications, and outsourced its assembly to Indian manufacturer Quad Electronic.

According to The Times of India, DataWind attempted several times to produce a device that would satisfy IIT Rajasthan’s testing criteria, but failed to do so each time. In April 2012, IIT Rajasthan signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Quad Electronic, which DataWind claims it was not made aware of. As a result, it is accusing IIT Rajasthan of breaching their contract. DataWind has now reportedly severed all ties with Quad Electronic, and has begun work with a new subcontractor.

It is now unclear whether DataWind will be producing the Indian government’s tablet going forward, despite winning the contract, and the responsibility of overseeing the project has been removed from IIT Rajasthan and given to government agency IIT Bombay.

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One comment

  1. Saurav 09/05/2012 @ 3:06 pm

    the project is not on hold. datawind is providing one lakh upgraded aakash tabs to the govt

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